Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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Advent streak

I’m stealing Red Hen’s idea here and starting an Advent fitness streak, though also a fully-clothed one, and definitely not all running.  Yesterday I did five circuits up and down the stairs – a gentle start, but I did run up each time.  Today I ran (very slowly) a mile, in the dark.  So I feel very virtuous.

Target is to be a bit fitter for Christmas, and to run a nice slow 5k on the 15th December, which will be exactly a year since I joined the Couch to 5k NHS running forum, and did my first one minute runs.  I may not be running very much, but I am definitely fitter than I was a year ago, when running for a minute nearly finished me off.   Though looking at my heart-rate and the super-slow pace, I can see that I have plenty of scope for improvement to get back to where I was earlier in the year – but I’m not in a rush.

Running a mile

Mile runs this year

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A wonderful breezy autumn run

A couple more rainbow pictures added from this afternoon, to this morning’s run report.

double rainbow

Double rainbow over Sumach (Rhus typhina)

Rainbow over Rowan

Rainbow over Rowan tree

Well, I was inspired by ‘juicyju’ the panther-runner on c25k, who was doing a half-marathon today. Others c25k-ers on Facebook had pledged to run at the same time, to give her moral support. As I’ve not run at all for four weeks (and then only for twenty minutes) I decided to push myself to get back out and do a bit of a run, even if it was only ten minutes. I went out before breakfast (I suspected I might not do it if I didn’t get going straight away), so a bit before the 10 o’clock start for the others.

The thought of all those other virtual running buddies pushing themselves to run ridiculous distances kept me going and going, and I did 5k! I am soooooo pleased! It’s two months since I last did that, so my joints will probably be reminding me all about it in a couple of days, but they were fine while I kept going. The pace was (of course) slow and steady, but I kept going for 47 minutes.

I just kept thinking that at least I wasn’t doing 10k or a half-marathon. I nearly stopped at 30 minutes, but then noticed it wasn’t quite ten o’clock, and it seemed a pity to have stopped when everyone else was about to begin, so I carried on, and then it seemed silly not to go all the way to 5k – though I can now see that meant I did more than half as much again!  Not sure I’d have done it, if I’d realised that at the time, but it just goes to show that bodies can often do a lot more than we think.

It was lovely out – sunny and blowy, perfect temperature for running.  I have always loved autumn – all the leaf colours and hedgerow fruits really brighten things up.  I must remember to take a hair-tie when I run though, as I kept getting mouthfuls of hair – yuk!

I didn’t take the camera on the run, but here are two pictures from the garden after I got back.

Rough Woodlouse - Porcellio scaber

Rough Woodlouse (Porcellio scaber) on moss (Grimmia pulvinata).  This makes me think of Dr Who monsters.

young frog

Young frog, about 5 cm long. I found him underneath a piece of spare pond-liner that we’ve left out on some bricks and grass, in the hope of attracting snakes. Until now, all we’ve found has been ant nests – black ants and yellow meadow ants. I imagine the frog had been feasting happily.


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Shiny, shiny apple

Tada!  Our first apple of the year, picked yesterday evening.  Supposed to be ready in September, but I couldn’t resist trying one, as they were so red already – just look at that polish!  We have about ten different varieties grown as cordons against a wall, so plenty more apple pics to come.  Not quite fully ripe yet, but tasty all the same.

red apple

Discovery (whoops) Scrumptious apple

Yay!  I ran 5k again today, only the second time this month, and about the tenth one ever, since the first one back in February.  Can’t say I enjoyed it much – from about 2 minutes in, I was ready to stop, and my calves were complaining much more than usual, I suppose from the lack of practice at longer runs, so serves me right.

Still, at about 25 minutes I realised I wasn’t thinking about my legs or my breathing any more – I was thinking about blogs, and what makes us think the way we do about things – but I will save the details for a few days, so as not to pre-empt someone else’s interesting project.  Watch this space for more information next week.  🙂  (No giving it away now!)

So, with that distraction, instead of stopping at 30 minutes, I kept going until I’d done 5k, which took me 45 minutes, which is ok.  Had another apple as a reward, and some lemon and lime curd on a rice-cake.  Nom nom nom.   🙂

PS  Just edited apple name – I got mixed up.  Discovery looks similar and is also an early variety.


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A year of healthy changes

My year of health-based changes – a response to this health and wellness prompt.

Last summer I found out that I was coeliac, and needed to cut out gluten from my diet. No bread, pasta, pastry, cakes… Yes, I do miss them sometimes, and reading packets for ‘hidden’ gluten can be tedious. Some complete supermarket aisles are off-limits for me. It also make eating with others more complicated (Do I ask about ingredients or just eat lettuce and tomato?), but to be honest, I think I’m pretty fortunate. Someone else at work had similar symptoms at the same time, and had to have surgery for bowel cancer. All I’ve had to do is change my diet.

rice cakes

I discovered that I really like rice cakes a few months before being diagnosed as coeliac. Very convenient for lunches and on holiday.

Mrs Crimble's Jam Coconut Rings - gluten free and mmmmmmm!

Mrs Crimble’s Jam Coconut Rings – gluten free and mmmmmmm! I may have eaten rather too many of these.

In December I started the NHS couch to 5k running programme. It hasn’t all been easy – there have been some bumpy patches on the way, and weeks with very little running, but overall it has made me fitter, and changed the way I see myself. Most runners seem to run further and faster than me (and some dog-walkers are still faster), but I have repeatedly surprised myself with what I can manage, and that has made me stronger.

Along with running, I re-discovered yoga, after a 20-year break. Yoga has really helped me improve my posture, always pretty poor, and getting worse from too many laptop hours.

My most recent wellness move has been to find out more about mindfulness meditation. The yoga had started me off, and the web and various books have helped me on my way. I took some convincing that it could work for me, an obsessive-compulsive worrier, but I can definitely feel a real change.

I love being able to find little patches of calm and quiet – even a few seconds focusing on breathing or hearing the sounds around me can open up space when my mind starts whirling, and longer sessions give me time to catch up and slow down. If you’ve never tried it, go and read up on mindfulness meditation now!

So, what health changes should I try next?


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The inner gazelle

Now I do realise that these aren’t gazelles, but it’s the nearest photo I’ve got – taken on holiday in Norfolk last week.

Fallow deer

Fallow deer at Holkham Hall, Norfolk

Well, yesterday on the NHS Couch to 5k site there was a brief discussion about running like gazelles or hippos. And on Red Hen’s blog she was debating whether she felt like a supermodel when she was running – and on how long it takes before a run stops feeling ghastly.

So, in the interests of research, I went out BEFORE BREAKFAST to run. Partly because I’d told three people online that I was going to run today, and I wanted to make sure I actually did it. I think I’ve only once gone out before breakfast to run before – my hubby was a bit worried about me.

I ran 5k – woo hoo! My last 5k was way back at the end of June (Race for Life), and I’ve only run more than a mile a couple of times since then, so I wasn’t sure I’d manage to keep going. But I did, and at not too bad a time either, for me, 43 min 20 s. I nearly stopped after 30 minutes, but it was a downhill bit then, so decided to keep going and imagine my inner gazelle/supermodel. Nice feeling, going faster and with heart rate a bit lower, sailing along. Mmmmmmm!

It then goes up a steep bit of hill, which felt much more hippoish, but I managed to speed up again for the last kilometer, which is flat. I wore my heart-rate monitor, just to see what it was like after several weeks of not much running, and that last bit was pushing it a bit. Anything over 160 tends to feel a bit uncomfortable. I don’t need a HRM to tell me when it’s got that high, as I can feel it – it’s just interesting to look at the record afterwards.

Heart rate graph

5k run heart rate

I was also keeping an eye on the time, to see how things were feeling as I went along, following up the discussion on Red Hen’s blog. At 2 minutes in, it was horrible (though surprising to see that I was actually going at my fastest then, as I thought I’d started off slowly). Still horrible at 5 and 7 minutes. A bit better by 10, but, ugh, 11 minutes and I wanted to stop – but probably that’s because it was a bit uphill then and in full sun, and the slight breeze had dropped. It’s also where my heart-rate jumped up from 140 to 160 in less than a minute – maybe it was an adrenalin surge at the thought of keeping going! After that it was pretty much ok, other than feeling pretty drained for that last km.

Maybe one day I’ll find out if it gets even easier after the first 5 miles? 😀


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Juneathon day 24

I’ve dared to put Juneathon in the title as I’ve actually done some exercise today.  I didn’t have  too good a start this morning though, as I ricked my back somehow, while sitting in a chair…  No idea what I did, but it was pretty painful, to the extent that I had to walk very gingerly or it made me yelp.

Large White butterfly on Knapweed

Large White butterfly feeding on Common Knapweed flower

Thankfully, it had eased off a bit by the time I left work, so I stopped off for a short butterfly hunt on the way home. I only saw one common butterfly, but it looked as though it was quite freshly hatched, without any wing damage. Very handsome, sitting on a Knapweed flower.

Home again, thirty minutes of gentle yoga stretches, and my back feels much better. Hopefully it will be fully recovered by the weekend for my Race for Life. I certainly wouldn’t have been running anywhere this morning.


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Daily Prompt: Person of the Year – Josh Clark – designer of the c25k running programme

I needed a bit of a push to get me going again, so went over to the NHS c25k support website

It was so inspiring reading about other people’s running successes, that I stopped in the middle of reading a new runner’s blog (who had just completed the big scary week 5 run) and went upstairs, put my running kit on, got outside for a warmup walk and then did a 32 minute run.  The first one for a week.  It was pretty slow, but not as difficult as the last one.

Anyway, one of the other things I’d been reading before I went out running was The Daily Prompt
and the prompt was – who would you make Person of the Year?   For me, the biggest change this year has been doing regular (relatively speaking) exercise, and it really got going with the NHS Couch to 5K programme, which is, as far as I know, based on Josh Clark’s programme.

When I went off on a hunt to find out his name, I came across this page, based on an interview with him about the programme, which was very interesting – not least that he designed it with his mum in mind, who was then 50.  No wonder it works so well for us oldies!  Though I do rather wish he’d called it c230, couch to 30 minutes, instead of couch to 5k, as 5k is a long, long way for many beginners, not to mention not-so-beginners like myself.

Well, two weeks and a couple of days until my 5k Race for Life, so I’d better get practising again.

Race for Life t-shirt

T-shirt is ready, but what about the legs?